treating human skin

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    • #132074
      Flavia Perugini
      Participant

      The life of a conservator is full of surprises.
      I have been asked to conserve a 6 in. diameter piece of human skin which is about to be surgically removed from the artist’s body. The artist’s intent is to wait until the skin has dried and shrunk so that he can mount it on a medallion.
      As a conservator I will have to work alongside the skin surgeon and take over from him after the surgery has been completed. I would need to monitor the piece of skin during curing and prevent damage which would cause the loss of the skin.
      This is a hit or miss kind of situation, hence thorough research is extremely important to the success of this “once in the artist’s lifetime” project.
      I would appreciate comments and suggestions on how to assist the artist with this request.
      Thanks.

    • #132083
      Ella Rayburn
      Member

      How about talking to a taxidermist? Maybe a pathologist?

    • #132082
      Flavia Perugini
      Participant

      Hi Ella.
      Those are good starting points and I have been trying to locate the right ones to discuss the project with.
      In the meanwhile I was wondering if anyone had ever come across similar issues.

    • #132081

      There are different ways to stabilize skin that have different results. One is tanning ( like shoe leather). Another leaves you with parchment, and the third results in something American Indians wear (raw-hide or buckskin). Given that the client is an artist, he probably has a picture in his mind of what he expects it to look like, so you need to discuss the options even before you talk to taxidermist or go on line for instructions. On the other hand, you may find that one method or another is easier to do – and less stinky.

    • #132080
      Flavia Perugini
      Participant

      Thanks Barbara.
      I will contact the artist and ask him to decide what the final product should look like. The discussion is still relatively new.

    • #132079

      You may what to look in to the work of Donald Rodney who has made art from his own skin. The National Museum Wales owns the piece shown in this photograph. It’s a bit of a conservation nightmare. They might be able to tell you how the artist preserved the skin.

      http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/rodney-in-the-house-of-my-father-p78529/text-summary

    • #132078

      I’m sorry, I can’t seem to attach the link. If you search ‘In The House of My Father’ on the Tate website you can see the image in question and read about the work.

    • #132077
      Flavia Perugini
      Participant

      Thanks Elspeth. This is most useful.
      I did received a link to the Tate website with your message that also reached me by email. I will contact my colleagues at Tate for additional info.

    • #132076

      If the surgery is being done in a hospital, you may want to check with the hospital’s administration. They may not allow you to removed to excised skin, as this is considered a bio-hazardous material.

    • #132075
      Flavia Perugini
      Participant

      Thanks Jacquelyn.
      I do plan on asking the relevant parties involved about procedures and permissions.

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